Frequently Asked Questions

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What type of counselling service is available to boys at WBHS?
Both short and long term, supportive individual counselling is offered to boys who seek help or who are referred to the counsellor. The focus of counselling is on the current issues in the boy’s life that impact on the boy’s performance at school, his relationship with peers, parents and teachers, as well as his mood and behaviour.

Drug counselling is also available to those who need it. The WBHS Counselling Department contracts with an experienced Addictions counsellor.

Is group work an option?
Yes, the counsellor believes that group work is a very useful method of intervention with adolescents. Where themes arise, the counsellor will respond by inviting boys to join a group. For example, groups have been run for boys who are binge-drinking, as well as boys who are new to the school and have had difficulty adjusting. Groups reduce feelings of isolation and provide rich opportunities for enhancing interpersonal relationships and feedback from peers.

How much choice does a boy have in seeing the counsellor?
Counselling at WBHS is voluntary, except in the circumstance where a boy is referred for counselling as a consequence of a disciplinary hearing. Who refers boys for counselling? Parents, teachers, or anyone concerned about a boy’s wellbeing, may refer a boy to the counsellor. Boys are also encouraged to approach the counsellor themselves. This often creates the most conducive counselling situation, as the boy is self-motivated. A boy may approach the counsellor at any time to request an appointment.

How does the counsellor contact the boy?
The counsellor will send a note to the boy via his tutor, inviting him to see the counsellor. In urgent situations, the boy will be called out of his class to the secretary’s office, and the secretary will ask the boy to go to the counsellor’s office.

What if the boy does not want to see the counsellor?
The counsellor will try to have at least one meeting with the boy to establish his feelings about receiving support. However, if he does not respond to two invitations to see the counsellor, the counsellor will get back to the person who referred, or the parents, and explore other ways of supporting him.

How many times does the counsellor see the boy?
This varies from case to case. The counsellor will see the boy as often as is necessary; for example, once, twice, weekly, fortnightly or termly. The counsellor has observed that adolescent boys tend to seek help when a situation feels urgent, and that often, one to three sessions are sufficient in supporting them through a crisis.

Can parents request a session with the school counsellor?
Yes, parents are welcome to make an appointment to see the school counsellor. The counsellor will work with the parent around issues relating to their son’s functioning. However, if the parent requests or requires therapy for him/herself, the counsellor will be happy to refer him or her to a recommended therapist. The counsellor encourages the involvement, support and co-operation of parents.

When and why does the counsellor refer boys to private practitioners?
Boys are referred to private practitioners when specific intervention is required that is beyond the scope and mandate of the school counsellor.

A boy will be referred .to a psychiatrist or paediatrician when:
• An assessment or second opinion is needed, for example, where there is a depression or anxiety disorder
• Medication is indicated

To an educational psychologist when:
• He would benefit from a psycho-educational assessment (where the boy is underachieving and/or learning difficulties are suspected)
• He needs study skills intervention

To a psychologist / therapist when:
• He would benefit from longer-term, in-depth therapy

To a careers counsellor when:
• He needs specific guidance around career options

Other situations when the counsellor makes a referral:
• Where the boy does not want to see the school counsellor
• Where the family would benefit from family therapy or couple therapy
• Where the problem is not school-related and does not manifest at school (for example, a relationship problem between child and parent)

What does confidentiality mean?
Confidentiality means that whatever you discuss with the counsellor is private and cannot be repeated to anyone else without your permission.

There are four situations in which the counsellor is obliged to break the policy of confidentiality. When a person is:
• Suicidal (expresses thought and/or intention of killing themselves).
• Homicidal (expresses thoughts or intentions of killing or harming someone else).
• At risk for self-harm (for example, cutting self, eating disorder or drug use).
• Being abused and is suffering harm as a result.

The counsellor will encourage the boy to inform his parents of his contact with the school counsellor, or will request permission to contact his parents. In cases where the boy wishes to keep his contact with the counsellor strictly private, and he is not at any physical or emotional risk or if the nature of the problem is not particularly serious, the counsellor respects the wishes of the boy. For example, a boy who pops in to see the counsellor once or twice in relation to a situation regarding his girlfriend.

In many cases, it is helpful for teachers to know something of the boy’s struggles. In these cases, the counsellor requests the boy’s permission to talk to a specific teacher/s.